Thursday, August 26, 2010

Perseverance and prayer

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today join me in praising the Lord for prayers answered for our friend, Mike! He has a job and his faith remains strong.

Mike used to have many tools for woodworking and construction until they were stolen last year. Months before that, he entered the "homeless" sector and had to store the tools at a friend's house.

One evening we got a phone call from Mike telling us his friend was close to dying. He had contracted a rare and quick-spreading cancer and was going downhill fast. Todd raced downtown to pick Mike up. They drove over to the friend's house and prayed at his bedside.

Two days later, the friend died. Unfortunately, the tools Mike has stored at his house were stolen.

This was the one-two punch for Mike as he was still reeling from his friend's death. With his tools gone, any chance for a pick-up construction job was slim to none. He held on to the Lord and persevered through a rough winter and spring. Many times, he wondered what would be next. Mike's faith and perseverance astounded me. He kept giving of himself when others were in need and always greeted me with a smile and hug even when his eyes told of struggles.

Of course, the Holy Spirit was at work all along. Once we shared the news of Mike's tools being stolen, a generous group of friends came together with donations for a surprise purchase for Mike - new tools and some terrific previously-used tools that looked and worked like new. He was going to have all he needed to tackle any big jobs that opened up.

Long story short (I know, too late!) a few guys got together with Mike and took him shopping. Mike was all about bargain hunting and making the best use of the money gifted to him. He was overwhelmed with gratitude.

After dinner one night, he asked us to store the tools in our home for safe-keeping since he didn't have any jobs lined up at the time. Soon, days turned into weeks and weeks into months with no work. We trusted God had prepared Mike with the tools. Wait patiently on the Lord...

Mike landed a couple odd jobs, but nothing big.

We hadn't seen or heard from Mike for over a month, but this morning he called and asked if I could bring the tools down to him at Matthew's House because he has two good jobs lined up starting tomorrow. Praise God!!

I met him on the sidewalk with a big hug. He then introduced me to Pastor George who is going to let Mike store the tools there. George told me about Matthew's House and their mission.

Let's just say that when the red-tape of the big agencies gets twisted up, the "little guys" (aka area churches and other groups) come together in big ways to assist and empower struggling brothers and sisters. It's a beautiful thing. The more God's family works together, the more His glory is shown. Jesus never said help just those who go to your church or live in your neighborhood or your own country. Whatever you do for the least of these...

We serve a mighty God Who chooses to work with great love through His sinful children. How amazing is that??

Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
-Theresa of Avila

Take a moment to give glory, honor and praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is at work in your life and the lives of many others this very moment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Participating in God's work

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ..

After a meeting this evening with fellow life counselors (sidewalk counselors outside our local abortion clinics), I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Holy Spirit at work.
The Perpetual Eucharistic Chapel was close by, so I drove over and just collapsed in awe and thanksgiving before our Lord.
All glory, honor and praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord, how is it that You allow us sinners, us unlearned men and women, to participate in your Divine plan? You have no need of us, but still daily allow Your greatness to shine through our weakness. We only need to come to You and ask.
What greater blessing could we want or hope for than to know and trust Christ's love and be able to share that love with others??

While serving lunch in the park last Saturday, a woman was saying, "you will receive a great reward for this." Will receive? "We are receiving right now," I said, "by coming together in the unity of Christ with our brothers and sisters." Being a slave, a servant, of Christ is the reward. Through serving Him, He allows me to know Him better. He opens my eyes to His presence in every day occurrences. I experience the longing in many brothers and sisters that we meet.
The Holy Spirit convicts me of my sinfulness and, at the same time, creates an awareness of God's mercy that has rained down to save me each and every day.

There were many days in the past when I lived in mortal sin. I worshipped the God of the flesh and lived for the pleasures of this world. Thankfully, my Lord did not allow me to die in my sins. Now I can not stand the thought of another person on the verge of suffering eternal death. Of course, God is God and I am not. He gives each of us free will to choose good or evil. We need to pray for wisdom on how to help others on this journey and humbly received help when we are in the wrong.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Wouldn't you rather know the love of Christ and be able to participate as His disciple every day than have all the riches of the world? Do we spend more time judging others?
Are we concerned more with trying to fix them or praying for the grace to accept each individual right where they are?
How often do we tell others how much Jesus loves them?
Most days it's difficult for me to contain the joy, pain and gratitude amid the emptiness of all this world offers. Aside from faith, family/community, serving and the beauty of creation, everything else "is rubbish" as St. Paul said.
This is the daily carrying of the cross.

How then did the apostles feel actually being near Christ, walking with Him every day amid the darkness of their times? Where they overwhelmed that He chose them, simple as they were? Were they impatient, frustrated, joyful? Most likely, they were. Yet, Jesus chose them to participate in His divine plan and loved them through it all.

Today's Gospel in John 1:45-51 tells of Nathanael (Bartholomew) exclaiming, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” because Jesus mentioned that He saw Nathanael sitting under a fig tree before He even met Nathanael. Then Jesus said, "You will see greater things than this.”And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
There must have been some amazing power of the Lord at work in the apostles to be with and follow Jesus every day without being stopped in their tracks at the awesomeness of it all. This, too, before the Holy Spirit was unleashed upon them revealing the fullness of the Truth!

To the world, the cross of Christ seems like foolishness. But to those of us striving to enter the kingdom of Heaven it is beautiful and necessary.

Along this subject line, I would like to share the wisdom of John Chrysostom from today's Office of Readings from the Liturgy of Hours. It is from his Homily on the First Letter to the Corinthians: 'The weakness of God is stronger than men'

It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgement, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!
In what way is it stronger? It made its way throughout the world and overcame all men; countless men sought to eradicate the very name of the Crucified, but that name flourished and grew ever mightier. Its enemies lost out and perished; the living who waged a war on a dead man proved helpless. Therefore, when a Greek tells me I am dead, he shows only that he is foolish indeed, for I, whom he thinks a fool, turn out to be wiser than those reputed wise. So too, in calling me weak, he but shows that he is weaker still. For the good deeds which tax-collectors and fishermen were able to accomplish by God’s grace, the philosophers, the rulers, the countless multitudes cannot even imagine.
Paul had this in mind when he said: The weakness of God is stronger than men. That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or a public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him!
How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?
It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.

May the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you today and always as you live out your faith.